Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When markets drop, why do people feel they must stay in; can you really afford to lose 20% more?

I bought some cashews from my favorite downtown nut shop and told the clerk/owner that the stock market was down 247 points at the moment.

She frowned, and the said she guessed she could not get out of the market now since it had fallen so far today and in the new year. The Dow finished at 8200 today, down from a high of 9000 during the last week of the year.

Folks, the Dow is headed to 6000 at least. So do you want to lose another 20% of your money? I asked the woman why she just didn't sell, take the losses, put her holdings in money market funds making 3%, then buy back low in the market and make back some money over the long term.

She won't do it. I got the same reaction from people when the market was at 8600. Everyone wants a quick return and replenishment. It is not going to happen.

Here are some fundamental truths becoming more apparent with each tortuous week.

* You will not make back the money you lost in the stock market since Nov. 2007 for at least 10 years at the earliest.

* The American economy will never recover to what it was at its height in the 1990s and early 2000s. China will come back first and become a consumer nation with a rising standard of living.

* The trillions in wealth that has disappeared has reappeared in the accounts of people such as me who got out of the market above 12,000 and who will get back in below 6,000.

So why take more losses for us to make more profit? Get out if you are in mutual funds. And if you are in individual stocks, the dividend had better be near 10% or you're going to lose money there, too.

Start thinking and acting.

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